Victor Sadovnichy, Rector of Moscow State University, Speaks to Students
By Dorothy Davis
Dr. Victor Sadovnichy, the Rector (equivalent to our college president) of Moscow State University (MSU) is a man of many honors, yet he still finds time to teach and do research, and to try and help others get a good education. Elected Rector in 1992 he’s a leading mathematician specializing in informatics and applied mathematics—his research helped lead to the zero-gravity simulator. He holds many national offices, among them the Presidency of the Russian Union of Rectors. A valued advisor to President Putin, he travels with him when education is on the agenda. His numerous honors from Russia and abroad include France’s Legion of Honor, awarded in 2005. Mathematics runs in his family—his wife and children are all mathematicians too.
Yet this remarkable man’s first job was as a coal miner. Born in 1939 to a poor family in Krasnopavlovka he was sure he would never be able to go to a university. He labored at the mine, studied on his own, and decided all he could hope for was to go to agricultural school. His team leader, however, encouraged the young man to apply to MSU, and even went to the post office, retrieved Sadovnichy’s agricultural school application and re-addressed it to MSU. He has never forgotten how this man and others helped him when he needed it, and is determined that MSU continue to serve ordinary citizens, and that poor but talented young people get a good education in Russia. “Education must be accessible for those who want to study and have a talent,” he said in a recent interview.
MSU, the school that he heads, is the pre-eminent university in Russia with over 40,000 students, 4,000 faculty members and 15,000 staff people. Some of its graduates are Alexander Hertzen, Andrei Sakharov, Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Wassily Kandinsky.
Rector Sadovnichy’s speech on St. Tatiana’s Day was very warmly received. Here are some excerpts, translated for EU by the staff of the SUNY/MSU Center in Moscow:
“We are proud of our students. Every other MSU student gets only good and excellent grades, every fifth student is engaged in productive research, every fourth student gets a degree with honors. Our students win many international competitions in software design, chemistry, and nanotechnology. What is the reason for this success? The main reason is the fundamental character of our education.”
“Russia has announced that this year is the ‘Year of the Family.’ More than 250 student families live in the dorms of MSU. We provide social support to make sure that they can both study and raise their children.” He compared this to the 1800s when a student was punished for being married.
“Our tradition is one of successful studies, of high quality academic education, civic mindedness and patriotism. Most of our students follow in this tradition.”
(Copies of Rector Sadovnichy’s address, in Russian, are available on request from Education Update.)#